Tournament Rules - Full Contact (Sabaki)

The purpose of the full contact tournament is to give the students of karate a chance to test their technical skill, fighting spirit and determination. These rules are designed to give the students the maximum possibility to test their techniques in combat, with the minimum risk of causing or receiving serious injury. The contestants must at all times show the utmost respect for their opponents and all officials of the tournament.

Article 1 General Rules

1.   The minimum age for contestants is 16 years. The maximum age will be left to the  discretion of the Tournament Doctor, who will examine all contestants before the eliminations begin.

2. The weight classes are:-
                                                 Lightweight              under 60kg
                                                 Middleweight           under 70kg
                                                 Light Heavyweight   under 80kg
                                                 Heavyweight            over  80kg

     NB.  The minimum weight in the lightweight category will be decided by the Tournament organisers in consultation with the Tournament Doctor.

3.  Each contestant must have at least 2nd kyu or have practised karate for at least two years.

4. Neither Ashihara Karate nor the officers of the Association will be in any way responsible  for  any  injury or accident which may occur during the Tournament. If insurance is wished,  then  it  is  up  to the individual contestant to secure and make his own arrangement for that cover. This is the total responsibility of the contestants.

Article 2: Uniform

A.  Referees

1.   Referees and judges must wear the official uniform designated by the referee council. This uniform must be worn at all tournaments and courses.

2.    The official uniform will be worn as follows:-
          A black blazer.
          A white shirt (long or short sleeved)
          An official tie.
          Plain light grey trousers/skirts.
          Unpatterned dark blue or black socks.

B.  Contestants

1.   The contestants will wear white Karate Gi's that are clean and  in  good condition. Style badges may be worn at provincial events. At national events only provincial badges may be worn.

2.   One contestant will wear a white belt and one will wear a red belt.

3.   Groin protection is compulsory and gum shields are recommended. Depending on the venue of the Tournament, shin and instep protection may or may not be worn. In the event of an injury to a contestant, the wearing of bandages or other protective materials will be at the discretion of the Head Referee or the Head Arbitrator in consultation with the Tournament Doctor. Their decision is binding. Otherwise no protective clothing, bandages or guards than the aforementioned will be allowed.

4.   Finger and toe nails must be clean and cut short. No jewellery or other objects may be worn.

5.   Spectacles may not be worn. Contact lenses may be worn at the contestant's own risk and responsibility.

6.   The wearing of other unauthorised clothing or equipment is forbidden and may result in the disqualification of the contestant.

Article 3: Match Area

1.   The fighting area shall be 8 metres square.

2.   There shall be a 1 metre neutral zone surrounding the fighting area.

3.   The marking out of the officials and match areas shall be as per Appendix 3.

4.   The official coach of a contestant shall be provided with a chair which is placed 2 metres from the neutral area, directly behind their fighter. The coach is not allowed to leave this chair during the fighting.

5.   When possible the fighting area should be covered with Tatami. The neutral zone shall be of another colour than that of the fighting area, or clearly indicated in some other manner.

Article 4: Officials

1.   Each fighting area shall have the following officials:
      A co-ordinator, a protocol secretary, a announcer, a time keeper, a arbitrator, a referee and 1, 2 or 4 judges.

2.   In a decision upon the outcome of a contest, each judge and the referee shall have one vote.

3.   The arbitrator is appointed to ensure the fairness of the conduct of matches and judgements rendered thereon.

Article 5: Duration of a match

1. Each preliminary match shall last for one 3 minute round. In the event of a draw, one 1 minute extension (encho-sen) will be allowed. At the end of this period the referee and the judge(s) will make a positive decision.

2. Semi-final and Final matches will consist of two 2 minute rounds with a 1 minute rest between rounds.

3. In the semi-final and final matches the referee and judge(s) will be allowed to give a draw after the first period of 2 rounds and 2 minutes. If this should result in a draw then one extension (encho-sen) of 2 minutes shall be permitted. At the end of this extension the referee and judge(s) must give a positive decision.

4. The timing of the match begins when the referee gives a signal to start, and stops each time the referee calls "Yame".

5. The time-keeper shall give signals by a clearly audible gong, or buzzer indicating that time is up. The contestants are to stop fighting on the signal of the referee only. A clearly discernable signal shall indicate when 15 seconds of the rest period between rounds is left, at which time the contestants are to return to the fighting area.

6. An technique delivered at the same time that the end of the round or match is signalled is considered valid. An attack, even if effective, delivered after an order to suspend or stop the match shall not be scored and may result in a penalty being imposed on the offender.

7. No technique, will be scored if it is delivered when one contestant is outside the fighting and neutral zone. If both fighters are in the neutral zone and the referee has not called "yame", then all techniques score as normal

Article 6: Organisation of Competitions

1.  A karate tournament may comprise kumite competition and/or  kata competition. The kumite competition may be further divided into the team match and the individual  match. The  individual match may be further divided into weight  divisions. Weight division are divided ultimately into  bouts. The term  "bout" also describes the individual kumite  competitions between opposing pairs of team members.

2.  In team matches, each team must have an odd number of contestants. The number of contestants can be divided by the agreement of the organisers.

3.  The contestants are all members of the team. There are no fixed reserves.

4.  Before each match, a team representative must hand onto the official table, an official form defining the name and fighting order of the team members. The fighting order can  be changed for each round but once notified, it cannot be changed.

5.  A team will be disqualified if any of its members or its  coach changes the team's composition without submitting the  written fighting order. Use of a reserve constitutes a change in fighting order.

6.  In a team match, a participating team will be allowed to participate only when it comprises more than half the precised number of members.

7.  No contestant may be replaced by another in an individual title match.

8.  Individual contestants or teams that do not arrive at the competition venue before the tournament is declared open may be disqualified from participation in that tournament.

9.  Should individual contestants or teams that have applied for participation, either fail to attend a match without good  reason; or without notifying in advance the match-conducting authorities, quit the match and leave, a disciplinary  measure to be applied will be decided upon by the referee council following a recommendation from the chief referee.

10.  A "round" is a stage in a competition leading to the eventual identification of the finalists. In an elimination competition, a round eliminates fifty percent of the contestants within it, counting byes as contests. In this context, the round can apply equally to a stage in either primary elimination or repechage.

11.  The use of contestant's names can cause problems of pronunciation and identification, therefore it is recommended that tournament numbers be allotted and used.

12.  If, through a error in charting, the wrong contestants compete, then regardless of the outcome, the match is declared null and void.

Article 7: Criteria for a decision

1. Ippon:-

(a) With the exception of techniques which are fouls and not allowed  by the contest rules, any contestant who knocks his opponent down and the opponent is unable to continue within 10 seconds, scores an Ippon. This automatically terminates the match.

(b) When a contestant informs the referee that he is beaten, as the result of techniques allowed within the contest rules, his opponent shall be awarded an Ippon. This automatically terminates the match.

(c) Two Waza-ari are the equivalent of an Ippon.

2. Waza-ari:-

(a) Where a contestant is knocked down by a technique allowed within the contest rules and is able to continue to fight within 10 seconds, a Waza-ari will be awarded. Any contestant who is clearly not in a condition to continue will not be allowed to do so by the referee. The referee may consult with the Tournament Doctor if he sees fit. In a case where the contestant is stopped from continuing, the opponent will be awarded a Ippon.

(b) A contestant who clearly shakes his opponent with a technique allowed within the contest rules and the opponent is able to continue within 10 seconds, shall be awarded a Waza-ari.

(c) A sweep or takedown technique followed by a well focussed but non-contact technique,delivered within 2 seconds of the sweep, shall be awarded a Waza-ari.

A contestant who has gained a Waza-ari, over an opponent who has not scored a Waza-ari will normally, but not necessarily be awarded the victory at the time of the referee's and judge's decision.

3. Points:-

Where a contestant clearly hurts his opponent with a technique which is allowed within the rules of the contest, he shall be awarded one-sixth point. If a successful throw or sweep is executed and is not followed by a controlled punch or kick, a one-sixth point will be awarded. The referee will indicate that he has a awarded one-sixth point to a contestant, by pointing at the contestant with one hand and raising the other hand straight above his head, with his index finger extended.

The awarding of 3 one-sixth points constitutes a Waza-ari.

4. Superiority:-

The referee and judges may award a decision on the basis of superior technique, technical skill and fighting spirit.

5. Genten:-

A public warning, Genten, shall be considered to have the approximate value of a Waza-ari for the opponent.

Article 8: Target Area

A. The following are the legitimate targets for punches:-

     -The shoulders and arms
     -the chest
     -the abdomen
     -the ribs

B.  The following are the legitimate targets for kicks:-

     -the head
     -the face
     -the shoulders and arms
     -the chest
     -the abdomen
     -the ribs
     -the thighs

Article 9: Prohibited Acts and Techniques

The following matters may merit disqualification at the entire and absolute discretion of the referee of the contest. The contestant disqualified may give notice through his coach to the contest arbitrator, of his wish to appeal to the Chief Referee who, after consultation with the referee and judge(s), may reinstate the disqualified contestant or endorse and confirm the match referee's decision. The Tournament Chief Referee's decision is final.

A. The following techniques are forbidden and shall be punished in accordance with their severity:-

      - attacks to the opponent's head, face, throat or neck with the open hand, fist or any part of the arm.
      - kicks to the groin.
      - head thrusts or butts
      - kicks to any part of the knee joint.
      - elbow strikes to any part of the opponent's back.
      - making an attack from the floor after having been downed by an opponent.(NB competitors are allowed to defend themselves)
      - striking or kicking an opponent who has been downed, unless the attack follows a sweep or downing technique. In which case it is not allowed to make contact.
      - any other techniques or practises that the referee of the match decides is improper or unfair.

B. The following behaviour is forbidden and shall be punished in accordance with its severity:-

              - failing to obey the referee's instructions during a match.
              - frequently leaving the fighting area.(Jogai)
              - deliberately wasting time.
              - discourteous behaviour.
              - persistent bad behaviour or violence.
              - hair pulling, biting, gouging, etc.
              - grabbing without following immediately with a technique.

C. The contestants are allowed to grab and hold their opponents for no longer than 2 seconds or while performing a total of 2 techniques. The grab must be followed immediately by a technique. Persistent grabbing and holding without following up with a technique will be punished by an official warning.

D. The coach of a competitor, shall at all times during the operation of the match, remain in the coaches's official seat. The coach must not by word or deed, interrupt or cause to interrupt the smooth operation of the match. In the event that the coach contravenes this rule, then his/her contestant will be penalised according to the provisions of the article on Penalties.

E. Contestants who arrive late for bouts or who fail to appear * can merit automatic disqualification.
   * (The contestant will be called a maximum three times, with a 30 seconds between each call and 1 minute after the last call.)

Article 10: Penalties

Chui:- Each time a competitor is penalised with an official warning, the opponent is automatically awarded one-sixth point.

Genten:- A Genten is equivalent to two Chuiís. A competitor is penalised with a Genten warning for serious infringements of the rules, and the opponent is automatically awarded Waza-ari.

Jogai Chui:- Each time a competitor is penalised with an official Jogai warning, the opponent is automatically awarded one-sixth point.

The order of warnings are as follows:-

            Warning     = private warning
            Chui Ichi    = 1st official warning
             Chui Ni     = Genten Ichi (1st public warning)
          Genten Ichi  = approximately Waza-ari
          Chui San     = 3rd official warning
         Chui Yon     = Genten Ni (2nd public warning)
         Genten Ni    = Shikkaku (disqualification)

NB A contestant cannot be saved from disqualification by the act of the injured/fouled opponent "throwing in the towel". In such a case, the injured/fouled contestant automatically withdraws from any further participation in the tournament and the perpetrator is disqualified.

An example of the different levels of warning is as follows:-

(a) Any deliberate attack to the opponent's head, face, throat or neck with the open hand, fist or any part of the arm, which shakes the opponent or worse shall merit an automatic disqualification (Shikkaku).

(b) Any deliberate attack to the opponents head, face, throat or neck with the open hand, fist or any part of the arm, which clearly hurts the opponent shall normally merit an automatic public warning (Genten).

(c) Any accidental contact to the opponent's head, face, throat or neck with the open hand, fist or any part of the arm, which shakes the opponent or worse shall normally merit an automatic public warning (Genten).

(d) Any accidental contact to the opponent's head, face, throat or neck with the open hand, fist or any part of the arm, which clearly hurts the opponent shall normally merit an automatic official warning (Chui).

Jogai relates to a situation where a contestant's foot move outside of the fighting area. An exception is when the contestant is actually propelled from the area by his opponent. (The rule is devised to prevent contestants from deliberately stepping out of the area in order to avoid an opponents attack. It also applies to competitors who passively allow themselves to be propelled out of the area.) ( NB Jogai warnings do not cross accumulate with other warnings.)

Article 11: Power and Duties

A. The Chief Referee's powers and duties shall be as follows:-

1. To ensure the correct preparation for each given tournament in consultation with the tournament organising committee,  w.r.t. competition area arrangement, the provision and deployment of all equipment and necessary facilities, match operation and supervision, safety precautions, etc.

2. To decide in advance, the allocation and appointment of arbitrators, referees and judge(s) and to arrange for the operation of a referee commission to oversee the performance of the refereeing officials.

3. To nominate substitute officials where such are required. The composition of a panel of officials may not be changed at the sole discretion of the arbitrator, referee or judge(s).

4. To pass the final judgement on matters of a technical nature which may arise during a given match and for which there are no stipulations in the rules.

B. The arbitrator's (Kansa) powers shall be as follows:-

1. An arbitrator (Kansa) shall be appointed for each match. He/she shall oversee the operation of the match and actions of the referee and judge(s), and when requested, he/she may express his/her opinion to the referee.

2. Only when taking part in consultation with the referee and judge(s) or when referred to for an opinion, shall the arbitrator be entitled to cast a vote.

3. When the referee and judge(s) consult, the arbitrator, if requested shall take part. When the arbitrator has an opinion to express, it must be done through the intermediary of the referee who will consequently, summon the judge(s). The full procedure may, however, be omitted when the referee simply refers to the arbitrator for an opinion.

4. The arbitrator can request the referee to halt a match if there has been an infraction of the rules, or if an administrator wishes the referee to halt the bout, he/she will blow his/her whistle.

5. The power of the arbitrator will include supervision and direction of the time-keeper.

6. The arbitrator will assist the referee by making note of the points and penalties awarded.

C. The Referee's (Shushin) powers shall be the following:-

1. The referee (Shushin) shall have the power to conduct matches,  including the start, the suspension and the end of a match. He/she has the power to:-

a. To award an Ippon, Waza-ari or Points.

b. To impose penalties and to issue warnings, before, after or during a match.

c. To terminate a match if one competitor is clearly inferior to the other and in risk of serious injury.

d. To obtain the opinion(s) of the judge(s) and arbitrator when required.

e. To explain, if necessary, the basis for giving a judgement.

f. To announce extensions.

2. The authority of the referee is not confined solely to the competition area, but also to all of it's immediate perimeter.

3. The referee need not halt a match when a judge signals, if the former is convinced the signal is incorrect. The referee's judgement in this instance is made "on the move". Before over -ruling the judge's signal, the referee must consider if the judge was better sighted.

4. When explaining the basis for a judgement, the referee may speak to the arbitrator, Chief Referee or referee committee. The referee shall explain to no one else.

D. The Judge's (Fukushin) powers shall be as follows:-

1.   a. To assist the referee.

     b. To take part in a consultation with the referee and arbitrator when invited.

     c. The judge must only score what he/she actually sees. When signalling a score, the judge should use signals which may be clearly seen, yet which are not overly
         obtrusive. The object is to inform the referee of an opinion - not to seek to impose it.

 d. To exercise a right to vote on a decision to be taken.

2. The judge shall speak only if summoned by the referee.

3. The judge shall carefully observe the actions of the contestants and signal to the referee an opinion in the following cases:-

 a. When an Ippon or Waza-ari is observed.

 b. When a contestant appears about to commit, or has committed a prohibited act and/or techniques.

 c. When an injury or illness of a contestant is noted.

 d. When one or both of the contestants have moved out of the competition area.

 e. In other cases when it is deemed necessary to call the attention of the referee.

E. The following general points must be noted:

1. The appointed arbitrators, referees and judges may not occupy other positions during the tournament.

2. All consultations between the referee panel must be kept as brief as possible. Whenever possible, discussions should be strenuously avoided and reliance placed upon the prescribed gestures as given in Appendix 4, to communicate views.

K A T A   R U L E S


1.  The competition area must be flat and devoid of hazard. In principle, the floor should be wooden.

2. The competition area has no fixed size. though it must be large enough to permit the correct performance of kata.


1.  Contestants, referees and judges must wear the official  uniform as defined in article 2 of the kumite rules.

2. Any person who does not comply with this regulation may be debarred.


1. Kata competition takes the form of team and individual match. Team matches consist of competition between 3 person teams. Each team is exclusively male or female. The Individual Kata match consists of individual performance in separate male and female divisions.

2. The contestants will be expected to perform both compulsory (SHITEI) and free selection (TOKUI) katas during the competition. The referee council will define the list of compulsory katas prior to the competition. A schedule of the compulsory katas is given in Appendix 1.


1. The panel of 5 judges for each match will be designated by the referee council before the match.

2. In addition, for the purpose of facilitating the operation of kata competitions, score-keepers and caller/announcers will be appointed.


1.  The result of a kata match is determined by the summation  of points accumulated by contestants during the final round  of that match.

2.  The kata competition is organised into three rounds. The  first round selects sixteen contestants, the second round  selects eight contestants and the third round selects the winner and final placings.

3.  Each kata judge displays the score by means of points. The  cards bearing the points are held in the right hand.

4.  When the score-keeper summate the score for each contestant  in a round, the maximum and minimum scores are deletes. In  the event of a tie in any round, the minimum score is then  incorporates into the total for that round. If the tie  persists, then the maximum score for that round is  incorporated. In the event of a continuing tie, the  contestants must perform a further kata of their choice.


1.  In assessing the performance of a contestant or team, the  following criteria must be adopted:

 a.  The kata must be performed with competence and must demonstrate a clear understanding of the principles it contains.

 b.   The kata performance must have demonstrated correct   focus of attention (CHAKUGAN) use of power, good balance and proper breathing.

 c.  The performance should also be evaluated with a view   to discerning other points.

2.  A contestant is disqualified if he/she interrupts or varies  the kata, or if he/she performs a kata different from that  drawn or announced. If the performance is brought to a halt,  or if the kata is varied, the contestant(s) will be  disqualified.


1.   The contestant or head of team will respond to the calling  of his/her name by going directly to the competition area.  He/she will stand on a designated line and bow to the panel.  He/she will announce the name of the kata which is to be  performed and then start it. On completion of the kata, the  contestant will return to the designated line and await an  award from the panel.

2.  The referee will call for a decision (HANTEI) and blow a  sharp blast on the whistle. The judges will, in unison,  raise their scorecards such that they are clearly visible  to the scorekeeper.

3.  The caller/announcer will announce the scores awarded and  when these have been registered, the referee will blow a  further sharp blast on the whistle, hereupon the cards will  be lowered.

4.  In the first round, the contestants must perform a scheduled kata. The choice must be announce in advance so as to be  included in the drawsheet for that round. In the second  round a different choice, similarly notified, must be made  from the schedule. In the third round, the contestants may  perform any kata. The name of the free kata must be entered  into the draw sheet prior to the commencement of the third  round.

 Appendix 1


10th - 4th Kyu  3rd Kyu - Black Belt
Ashihara Karate Shoshin     1, 2 Shoshin   3
Kihon       1, 2  Kihon     3
Kumite      1, 2 Kumite    3, 4, 5
Enshin Karate Obi no kata 1, 2, 3 Obi no kata 4, 5, 6
Kogeki no kata
Karma Karate Taeguek     1, 2, 3, 4  Taeguek   5, 6, 7, 8
Koryo, Keumgang,  Taebaek
Kenpo Karate
Kyokushin Karate Taikyoku    1, 2, 3  Pinan     3, 4, 5
Pinan       1, 2 Yantsu, Saiha
Gekisai-dai Seienchin, Seipai, Kanku-dai
Shidokan Karate
U.S. Oyama Karate Kihon       1, 2, 3, 4 Kihon     5, 6, 7, 8

Appendix 2




1.   MANAKA NI HAITE Enter the ring/fighting area.

2. REI   Cross the arms in front of the chest and say "Osu".

3. SHOMEN  Face the official seats.

4.  SHUSHIN   Face the main judge.

5.  OTAGAI NI     Face each other.

6.  KAMAETE   Take fighting stance.

7.  HAJIME   Start the bout.


8.  YAME   Stop the bout immediately.

9.  KAMAETE   After stopping the bout, take fighting stance again.

10. ZOKKO   Start again the bout.

11.  ZOKKO / FIGHT  Attack. (When the competitors do not fight because of looking at each other).

12.  SHIRO (White)  First competitor entering the arena.

13.  AKA   (Red) Second competitor entering the arena.


14.  GANMEN-KOGEKI  Attacking the face with the hand or elbow.

15.  TSUKAMI   Grasping the dogi.

16.  SHOTEI-OSHI    Pushing the opponent with the open hands.

17.  KINTEKI-KOGEKI Kick to the groin.

18.  ZUTSUKI   Head thrust.

 OTHERS   Attack from the back, attacking an opponent who is already down, etc.


19.  CHUI-ICHI  First warning.

20.  CHUI-NI   Second warning. This constitutes a penalty.

21.  GENTEN-ICHI  First penalty.

22.  GENTEN-NI  Second penalty. This actually constitutes disqualification. Main-judge says "Genten-ni, Shikkaku".


 The main judge designates the competitor who made the foul  as Aka or Shiro and he declares the foul, and its nature  eg."Aka, tsukami, chui-ichi". The competitor who committed the foul has to say "Osu" when  hearing the main judge's declaration.


23.  IPPON   The declaration of ippon entails the victory. The main judge designates the competitor as Aka or Shiro and declares "Ippon" and its nature.
    eg. "Aka, migi-mae-geri, Ippon".

24.  WAZA-ARI   Effective attack which damages the opponent, but to the same extent as an ippon. Two declarations of waza-ari constitute a full-point. Waza-ari is declared in the same way as Ippon.  eg. "Aka, migi-mae-geri, Waza-ari."

25.  AWASE-IPPON  Ippon by two Waza-ari is declared in the same way as Ippon.
    eg." Aka, migi-jodan-mawashi, Waza-ari, Awasete-ippon.


    When no clear full-point has been scored, the victory is awarded by decision. The procedure of  decision is as follows:

26.  SHOMEN-MAWATE Face the front

27.  HANTEI-O-ONEGAI SHIMASU  The main judge asks the decision of the assistant judges.

28.  HANTEI   When hearing this, the assistant judge must use the flags to show their decision.

29.  SHIRO   (White)    The mirror referee raises the flag having the same colour as the
30. AKA        (Red)       competitor whom they consider to be the winner.

31.  HIKIWAKE   Draw.


 Main judge counts the number of flags, and says his own  decision. At the same time he points obliquely with his hand  to the winner. In case of a draw, he crosses obliquely downwards his hands. (Then an extension is allowed).


 The main judge declares the victory. This is the end of the  bout.

32.  ICHI   One flag.

33.  NI    Two flags.

34.  SAN    Three flags.

35.  SHI    Four flags.

36.  SHUSHIN,  AKA       )    Decision of the main judge counts the
       SHUSHIN,  SHIRO    )    number of flags and says his decision.

     eg.1)     "Hikiwake ichi, Shiro, ichi,  ni, san, Shushin, Shiro"
        In this case "Shiro" wins by   4 to 0.

     eg. 2)  "Hikiwake ichi, ni, Shiro,  ichi, ni, Shushin, Shiro"
       In this case "Shiro" wins 3 to 0.

     eg. 3)  "Shiro, ichi, ni, Hikiwake, ichi, ni, Shushin, Hikiwake"
       In this case there is a draw.


38.  SHUSHIN-NI-REI)  The same as the opening of the bout.


 After bowing to each other, competitors shake hands and  leave arena from their corner.

 (TAMESHIWARI)  - When Performed!!

40.  SHOMEN-NI-REI  The same as the opening of the bout.

41.  MAWATE-REI  Turn around and say "Osu".

42.  ICHINI-TSUITE  Stand by.

43.  HAJIME   Break the boards.


44.  KANSUI   All the boards have been broken.

45.  SHIPPAI   The breaking test failed.

46.  In case of "Kansui"; competitor's number, the number of the  broken boards, Kansui.

47.  In case of "Shippai"; competitor's number, Shippai.

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Updated by Hoosain Narker